Tell Me About It: How do I go back to being the person I was before Covid?
PROBLEM: It’s now two years of Covid and I can’t help but think I’ve lost the person I was in March, 2020. I don’t like my current self.
I was a confident, happy person with an active social life, both at work and in my personal life, and I went to the gym a lot. Since Covid, working from home has been more intense but with none of the fun that used to be attached to it and it’s hard to keep a daily routine. I like working from home, but moved out of the city during Covid so no longer feel close to my friends, though I see them very regularly and chat to them most days. I love my house but miss the spontaneity of going for a drink after work, and so on.
My lack of gym going and work intensity resulted in me putting on weight last year which I haven’t shifted yet and makes me feel more detached from who I was. I try to be more body positive, but I feel like I’ve regressed in every way – body confidence, social confidence, and so on. I don’t feel like I’m me any more. I was turning 32 in March 2020 and now I’m 34 and an entirely different version of myself.
How do I go back to being the person I was with all the changes of the past two years, or is she lost forever?
ADVICE: There is no doubt that Covid changed many people’s lives, and you are now looking at the impact on you and are at a new decision point. The difficulty is that we generally need to feel confident to make good decisions for ourselves and your confidence has taken quite a hit of late. The bigger question of where to live and what to do can be postponed until you get some of the basics in place.
Physically, you need good sleep, healthy food, fresh air and exercise. Emotionally you need social connection and fun. Mentally you could do with letting go the self-criticism and self-commentary that you are engaged in. This will involve both letting go of old habits and creating new ones. This is a challenging thing to do so start small with some easy wins.
Wide open spaces, greenery and nature are all well known to be soothing for our nervous systems and good for our mental health
Most of us find that working towards a goal with other people keeps us on track and has the added bonus of improving our social lives. Start with a conversation with some of your friends and ask if any of them want to join you in changing eating or/and exercise habits. This will serve the dual purpose of supporting change as well as making those friendships deeper.
As we are more honest and open, the relationship becomes closer, and your detachment will wane. You don’t have to join a gym for this as you and your friends can do classes (jointly) online as long as you check in and encourage each other. Wide open spaces, greenery and nature are all well known to be soothing for our nervous systems and good for our mental health, so find out what is available in your area in terms of walks, hikes and so on. Group walks are good in that they are not too socially intense but offer some companionship without too much self-consciousness and this would be a gentle way to begin to re-engage with your current living area.
Some of these changes will need support, for example, career advice, mental health support or an estate agent so do not feel that you should have all the expertise yourself
You appear to be living in one place while trying to be emotionally and mentally in another and this has consequences, the least of which is feeling divided and unsettled. The general rule is that you should try to exist fully where your body is. Even though you have not yet decided on where your future will be, it is a good practice to keep your mind where you are as much as possible. At the very least this will help you discover what committing to where you live might entail. Can you invite your friends for weekends and let them see what your life is like? They might have some insights that will be helpful for you.
As all these changes become embedded, you should find your confidence returning and then you can look at the bigger picture. It might be worth listing the big-ticket items including work, location, social life, health, relationship possibilities and then ask yourself three questions. What do you want to keep, what do you want to improve and what do you want to let go of completely?
Once you have this done, you should be able to put concrete plans, with a timeline, in place. Some of these changes will need support, for example, career advice, mental health support or an estate agent so do not feel that you should have all the expertise or knowledge yourself. Reach out to others as this is what a confident optimistic person would do.
Be comforted to know that, while it feels that your life is in crisis, there is also an opportunity here as we will not change anything when we are in a comfort zone. This is your opportunity.